There are various sorts of VAT frauds. The most common are listed below.
Missing Trader Intra Community Fraud (MTIC)
Missing Trader fraud is where someone buys goods from abroad which are VAT free and then sells them, charging VAT without paying the VAT to the Revenue and then disappears.
Carousel fraud is similar but more complicated. It involves a number of traders who sell the goods on. Normally the smaller traders pay VAT and this helps to cover the tracks of the initial seller.
It can be extremely complicated with a number of traders involved and involving exporting back to another EU country. It is easy for legitimate businesses to get caught up in this type of offence.
When investigating these type of offences a number of things will flag up as being suspicious such as back to back sales within a short time, no insurance taken out on the goods purchased, no evidence of the goods being inspected before purchase.
There are a number of potential charges that you could face in relation to VAT fraud. –
Conspiracy to defraud.
Cheating the Public Revenue
Fraudulent Evasion of VAT
It is common for innocent businesses to get caught up in a scheme like this. It is important to explain the suspicious circumstances and show that there are innocent reasons for the behaviour. For example you may be able to show that you purchased the items with a buyer in mind and therefore sold them on immediately explaining the back to back sales.
You will also need to distance yourself from the dishonest traders within the chain. It may be that the only people you know are those that you bought from and those that you sold to. It will be helpful if you can show checks that you made before decided who to purchase from and show why you chose them rather than any other trader.
You may be able to show that other people had insurance, such as the shipping company or that it was simply too expensive and you took a commercial decision. You may have relied upon someone else to view the stock such as the freight company.
It is helpful to show a pattern of trading and that this represented a typical transaction.
If the court decide that you knew, or ought to have known, of the fraud then you will not be able to claim back the VAT you paid.
SENTENCING AND POCA (PROCEEDS OF CRIME)
The sentencing in these types of cases will vary significantly depending upon the role of the defendant and the offence charged and sums involved. It can range from 6 months up to 14 years. If we advise you to plead guilty we will work to reduce the sentence. Your barrister will liaise with the court and the prosecution and try to minimise the role played by you if appropriate. For large VAT fraud cases the sentence is likely to be in excess of 10 years in prison.
Unfortunately as with a lot of these cases the pain does not end on sentencing. The prosecution will probably make an application for a Proceeds of Crime recovery, this means that you could face having assets taken away from you. This can be very harsh and it is important to avoid any legitimate assets being seized.
HOW WE CAN HELP
There is likely to be a lot of people involved in these type of offences, some will be the main fraudsters, some are legitimate businesses caught up in this. You may have been caught up in this without realising what was going on. We need to make sure that the prosecution see your role as that of innocent victim rather than a guilty party.
We will go through your case in detail and will build a strong defence to support your case. We will ensure that you have unlimited access to us and a top barrister. We understand that this is extremely important and a very worrying time. We will support you and your family throughout this.
For free confidential help call us on 01623 600645.